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Veteran celebrates 100th birthday

Daily Item - 7/16/2017

July 16--LEWISBURG -- Friends and family members of the soon to be 100-year-old Joe Diblin packed the Country Cupboard, in Lewisburg, to celebrate with the popular World War II Veteran on Saturday.

Lt. Col. Joe Diblin, who turns 100 on Thursday, of Northumberland was a flight instructor during World War II and on Saturday he was joined by 100 of his friends and family members for a special birthday party.

"I am overwhelmed," Diblin said. "I am just so excited and happy to see everyone."

Diblin stays active in the community and party organizer and family friend Barbara Spaventa, of Northumberland.

"He is my dear friend and has become family to me," Spaventa said. "I am so thankful we were able to put this together for Joe. I am so happy to see him enjoying this."

Diblin writes aviation and veteran articles for The Daily Item and he said he isn't slowing down anytime soon.

"I am going to keep going," he said. "I just can't believe all the people that came here today."

One of those was a former student of Diblin's.

"He was the best teacher I ever had," Marshall Slotterblach, 83, of Pottsgrove, said. "I always come back to the area to see Joe. He is a great man."

Another friend said the secret to Diblin's long life is brandy.

"I bring him a bottle every few weeks," 91-year old Charles Ticknor joked. "This is what has kept Joe young for so long."

Sunbury attorney Jeff Apfelbaum was also in attendance and said Diblin and the late Sidney Apflelbaum were great friends.

"For many, many years my father and Joe were friends," Jeff Apfelbaum said. "I am happy to be here today to celebrate this with Joe. Joe has meant so much to so many and to celebrate this day with him is just great."

Diblin was presented with a "Wall of Honor" plaque, by Spaventa.

The plaque is registered at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The plaque states Diblin's name will be seen on the Wall of Honor as a permanent testament to commitment to and passion for flight.

"I just want to thank everyone for coming and seeing me today," Diblin said. "This day is a great day for me and I am happy to spend it with my many friends and family."

Email comments to fscarcella@dailyitem.com. Follow Francis on Twitter @scarcella11.

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(c)2017 The Daily Item (Sunbury, Pa.)

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